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Jon Flanagan could be perfect solution to problem Celtic position

The defender worked under Celtic boss Rodgers at Liverpool.

Mathew Nash

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Celtic look set to win yet another Scottish Premiership title under Brendan Rodgers this season. Despite some rocky patches and a brief period where Rangers started to gain ground on their Old Firm rivals, the Bhoys are in the driving seat once again.

But some improvements need to be made to the squad if Celtic are going to continue their dominance of Scottish football.

One area in particular that needs to be addressed is the right-back position. Mikael Lustig’s best years certainly appear to be behind him whilst the likes of Christian Gamboa and Dedryck Boyata cannot be considered long-term solutions.

So who could Celtic boss Rodgers bring in to improve the position?

One name that immediately springs to mind is his former Liverpool full-back, Jon Flanagan.

Back in the 2013-14 season Rodgers nearly guided a Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to the Premier League title. His left-back for much of the season was the breakout performer Flanagan.

He was excellent whether asked to play at left or his natural position of right-back as Liverpool finished a close second to Manchester City. Flanagan’s impressive form even saw him make the England standby list for the World Cup that summer.

(Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Since then, Flanagan has seen his career harpooned by injuries. Knee problems left him out of action for much of the two seasons after. Off the field, woes have also blighted the young Liverpudlian.

But he is currently proving his fitness during a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers and a fresh start for the player in Glasgow could be the perfect move. Flanagan would fit in perfectly to the Celtic side at right-back and would also offer them options as a left-back cover.

It is easy to forget just how close Flanagan came to winning the Premier League and heading to the World Cup just four years ago. Rodgers will certainly have not forgotten about his former full-back and there won’t be many better options available to Celtic this summer if they are to strengthen the right-back position.

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John Hartson is right, as Celtic go backward to Ronny Deila level

Celtic are out of the Champions League following defeat to AEK Athens.

Mathew Nash

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Celtic are out of the Champions League and it is certainly not a situation that has gone down well at Parkhead. Fans and pundits are not particularly livid at the manager Brendan Rodgers or the players, who undoubtedly gave it their all. But rather it is the Celtic board that is in the crosshairs.

The 2-1 defeat at AEK Athens last night has been seen coming for some time. Despite bringing in Odsonne Edouard in a club record deal this summer Celtic boss Rodgers has been calling for more investment for some time. With only Scott Bain tying up a permanent deal and Emilio Izaguirre returning, the transfer business at Celtic has been otherwise dire.

It was a subject touched upon by former Celtic player John Hartson. The Welshman, who played 201 times for the Bhoys scoring 109 goals, tweeted:

His point is valid. The hard work done by Celtic manager Rodgers to get them where they were at the start of the summer has now been undermined.

Sure, they are still dominating Scottish football, even if Steven Gerrard’s Rangers revival might have some itchy bums in seats.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But in terms of European football? Celtic are now no better off than they were when Ronny Deila got the boot in 2016.

It is hard to hear, but falling to a side like AEK is as comparable to Deila’s struggles against Legia Warsaw, Maribor or Malmo.

Celtic have gone backward from a position where it almost seemed impossible to do so. Hopefully, Rodgers sticks around for the fight.

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One to watch: Celtic’s 19-year-old winger Daniel Arzani

Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…

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Daniel Arzani
Photo: Getty Images

Not many people saw Daniel Arzani menacing down the flanks of many an A-League pitch in the last 12 months.

Millions of people did, however, see the raw talent that the Australian possesses after three impressive cameos off the bench at this year’s World Cup – a tournament at which he was the youngest player.

And now he will head to Celtic on loan, playing in a league that will provide a sterner physical test while still allowing him to develop in the comfortable surroundings of a strong, attacking team.

Play Style

An attribute that will be of vital importance in the fledgling stages of the 19-year-old’s career at Celtic is his ability to play on both wings.

At Melbourne City, he constantly changed flanks from game to game – and even during games.

On the right flank, he likes to use his speed to stretch the pitch and make runs to the by-line.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

On the left, he enjoys using his incisive dribbling to move inside and head towards the penalty box.

He will be hoping to improve on his production though.

While impressive in the league, his record of two goals and one assist in 1,195 minutes is not particularly stellar.

In saying that, he has shown more than a few glimpses of the underlying raw talent needed to succeed at a higher level.

Season Ahead

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold glowingly endorsed the move, telling reporters this week, “It’s a big move for the kid. He’s a very intelligent kid. He knows what his plan is”.

With the international retirement of Tim Cahill, many in Arzani’s native Australia are looking towards the 19-year-old to be the face of the next generation.

Weirdly, he will try to grow into that role out of the national spotlight in the confines of Glasgow, Celtic Park and the Champions League.

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One to Watch: Celtic’s Kieran Tierney unstoppable down the flank in AEK draw

One to Watch pick Kieran Tierney impressed despite stalemate against AEK.

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Kieran Tierney
Photo: Getty Images

Celtic’s quest for Champions League football hit a hurdle as they draw 1-1 with AEK Athens at Celtic Park in the first leg of their qualifying tie.

Kieran Tierney, however, can feel absolved of much of the blame.

After being rested on the weekend in anticipation of this game, he looked fresh.

The Scottish full-back was unstoppable on the left-flank, as he constantly put pressure on an AEK defensively line trying to be compact as possible.

He did not allow them to be. He constantly bombarded down the wing, looking to stretch the defence, and he was consistently afforded the room to get into dangerous positions.

In the first half, he almost won a penalty with a direct run towards goal that the referee judged to be just outside the box

(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The Celtic defender was also instrumental in the build-up to the Hoops’ goal.

His foray into the box led to a deflected pass to Callum McGregor, who made no mistake smashing home to put Celtic ahead.

He also put in multiple dangerous crosses that slid through the penalty area without a Celtic player managing to get on the end of one.

In the second-half, Tierney moved to press forward even higher up the pitch after AEK were reduced to ten men early in the half.

With Celtic struggling to break the deadlock, they switched to a back three, moving the 21-year-old into a more defensive role.

But he continued to make forays forward as the Hoops camped themselves in the Greek side’s half for the final 20 minutes.

While Celtic were denied a first-leg advantage, Tierney will take great confidence into the second-leg after an all-round excellent performance.

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